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There are purists out there who will object to the use of collards in gumbo. I do so because 1) fresh okra is hard to find without growing it yourself in New England, and 2) I like the flavor that collards add to the stew. And I’d always thought of gumbo as somewhat improvisational: “Use file powder, no, use okra!” Like a lot of regional foods, there are significant variations, so I’m not going to lose sleep over altering this one to suit me.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup mild flavored vegetable oil (canola or sunflower)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2-1/2 cups minced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 3 cups chopped tomato
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 lb okra or substitute sturdy greens such as collards or kale
  • 3 lbs meat: a combination of chicken, crab, shrimp, oysters and duck
  • 1 lb Andoullie sausage
  • 2-1/2 quarts water or good chicken stock
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp good cayenne powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 tbsp file powder (if not using Okra)

Start with the roux: Warm the oil in a heavy pot large enough to hold all of the stew. Add the flour and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until it turns a rich brown, 20-25 minutes (alternately, make the roux in the oven: preheat oven to 350, mix flour and oil in dutch oven and bake until the desired color, 1-1/2 to 2 hours).

When the roux is the proper color, add the onion and garlic, stir until the onion is soft, 10 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes, pepper, and green onion, stir until the pepper is softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the okra or greens and saute until soft, 5 minutes or so

Add the meats to the saute and stir to coat. Add the water or stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the spices. Keep on a low simmer, uncovered, until the meats are cooked through and the gumbo is thick and rich, 1-2 hours.

Serve over rice.

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